British Government Releases Report on Iraq War
The British government released today a 12-volume report on the country’s involvement in the war in Iraq, from the planning for the 2003 invasion to the British withdrawal in 2009. The Iraq Inquiry — also called the Chilcot Report for the head of the board of inquiry, Sir John Chilcot — was commissioned by the ...
The British government released today a 12-volume report on the country’s involvement in the war in Iraq, from the planning for the 2003 invasion to the British withdrawal in 2009. The Iraq Inquiry — also called the Chilcot Report for the head of the board of inquiry, Sir John Chilcot — was commissioned by the House of Commons in 2009 and is based on seven years of interviews and access to British records. The report concludes that the British government accepted inaccurate assessments and poor planning from Washington and deliberately inflated the threat posed by Iraq in the weeks preceding the invasion. The invasion was planned “before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort,” Chilcot said this morning at a presentation of the inquiry’s findings. The report does not discuss whether the invasion was legally justified, but Chilcot said that “the circumstances in which it was decided that there was a legal basis for U.K. military action were far from satisfactory.” Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is expected to address the report’s assessment of his shortcomings later today.
Three-Day Ceasefire Takes Effect in Syria
The Assad regime announced that a three-day ceasefire would take effect early this morning and continue through Friday in observance of Eid al-Fitr. There has been a sharp increase in the number of Assad regime aircraft shot down by rebel forces — six jets and helicopters have been brought down near Damascus in the last 10 days in an area where Jaysh al-Islam is known to operate surface-to-air missiles. A suicide bomber on a motorcycle attacked a crowd at a bakery buying food for Eid in a Kurdish neighborhood of Hasakah yesterday, killing at least 16 people. No group has claimed credit for the attack but the Islamic State is suspected.
- Two suicide bombers followed by armed gunmen attacked the Solaban military base near Aden, Yemen, today, leaving at least six soldiers and 20 militants dead; no group has claimed credit for the attack yet, but a similar assault in Mukalla last month was carried out by the Islamic State.
- The Israeli government authorized plans to expand settlements in East Jerusalem and nearby settlements by hundreds of houses; the U.S. State Department called the plans “the latest step in what seems to be a systematic process of land seizures, settlement expansions and legalizations of outposts that is fundamentally undermining the prospects for a two-state solution.”
- At least seven people were killed and eight other wounded when a Turkish military helicopter carrying military personnel and their families crashed; Turkish officials have cited inclement weather as the cause of the crash.
- Recordings recovered from EgyptAir Flight 804’s cockpit voice recorder back up previous evidence of a fire on board the plane before it crashed into the Mediterranean Sea; the evidence is still being analyzed and investigators have not ruled out that the crash was an act of terrorism.
- Jordan and the United States may be close to reaching a nuclear cooperation agreement that would allow the country to proceed with its plans to build new nuclear power plants, Khaled Toukan, chairman of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission, told the Associated Press.
Arguments and Analysis
“The Iraq Inquiry” (John Chilcot, Chairman, Commissioned by the British House of Commons)
“By 2009, it had been demonstrated that some elements of the UK’s 2003 objectives for Iraq were misjudged. No evidence had been identified that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, with which it might threaten its neighbours and the international community more widely. But in the years between 2003 and 2009, events in Iraq had undermined regional stability, including by allowing Al Qaida space in which to operate and unsecured borders across which its members might move.
The gap between the ambitious objectives with which the UK entered Iraq and the resources that the Government was prepared to commit to the task was substantial from the start. Even with more resources it would have been difficult to achieve those objectives, as a result of the circumstances of the invasion, the lack of international support, the inadequacy of planning and preparation, and the inability to deliver law and order. The lack of security hampered progress at every turn. It is therefore not surprising that, despite the considerable efforts made by UK civilian and military personnel over this period, the results were meagre.
The Inquiry has not been able to identify alternative approaches that would have guaranteed greater success in the circumstances of March 2003. What can be said is that a number of opportunities for the sort of candid reappraisal of policies that would have better aligned objectives and resources did not take place. There was no serious consideration of more radical options, such as an early withdrawal or else a substantial increase in effort. The Inquiry has identified a number of moments, especially during the first year of the Occupation, when it would have been possible to conduct a substantial reappraisal. None took place.”
“The war next door: Syria and the erosion of stability in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey” (Julian Barnes-Dacey, European Council on Foreign Relations)
“Ultimately, only the resolution of the Syrian conflict can lower the regional temperature. The recent ceasefire efforts show that some degree of de-escalation is possible with a strong diplomatic push — and this needs an increase in European support. Those advocating European military escalation in this theatre should think carefully about the possible ramifications such action could have on regional stability. This should also be accompanied by a far greater display of immediate material support to important regional partners. In part, this should involve an increase in financial assistance with a focus on sustainable economic development in order to facilitate the longer-term management of the challenges at hand. The recent London Syria Conference marked a positive move in this direction, raising over $11 billion in pledges and foregrounding the importance of refugee integration through greater access to education facilities and the labour market. But the fact that the regional response plan remains so critically underfunded, and that key United Nations agencies were forced to cut support services to refugees last year, highlights the still-underwhelming international response. European backing on this front needs to be deepened and widened, accompanied by equal attention paid to strengthening security sector ties in a bid to thwart the threat posed by ISIS. The ISIS-orchestrated bombings in Brussels in March 2016 pointed to dangerous gaps in effective cooperation and information flows between Turkey and Europe. This requires urgent attention, both in terms of helping regional states confront the challenge and preventing the threat from moving into Europe. Critically, however, this approach should be accompanied by a greater European commitment to supporting the political consensus that is essential to holding these fragile states together.
-J. Dana Stuster
DAN KITWOOD/AFP/Getty Images